I attend a reunion of my 20-something daughter’s childhood friends and their mothers. Although we never quite developed enduring independent friendships, I always liked the other mothers a lot and enjoy catching up on our lives over glasses of Chardonnay.
One of my favorite moms, Jane, begins to joke about how bad her memory is getting, how her kids tease her that she has Alzheimer’s because she’s always misplacing her keys and her coffee cup. When everyone laughs, I laugh along, or at least smile gamely.
But self-pitying resentment bubbles up–how can she make light of a situation that feels so heavy to me. Of course, my resentment is patently unfair. Who doesn’t hit 50 and start joking about Alzheimer’s?
I used to kid Ralph all the time about his growing forgetfulness. That is until the day my daughter took me aside to say I should stop the teasing because he was probably terrified. But for Ralph and me, as long as we joked it wasn’t real. I look at Jane with new concern and sense genuine fear under her lightheartedness.
I don’t know Jane or the other women well enough to share that Ralph and I are coping with Alzheimer’s ourselves, but I am tempted.
Weeks later, I am still wondering if I should I have taken Jane aside and reached out to her.